May 16 2012
The grieving parents of a baby boy killed by a falling lamppost have accused a coroner's court of failing to provide answers about their son's death.
Tommy Hollis suffered a devastating head injury when the lamppost toppled over onto his buggy, which was being pushed by his nanny in Chiswick, west London, on February 23, 2010. He died in hospital 48 hours later, on the eve of his first birthday.
An inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death, after deliberating for more than three hours, having been directed to do so by Coroner Elizabeth Pygott.
Ms Pygott had not allowed the jury to deliver a verdict of unlawful killing, despite submissions made by the lawyer representing Tommy's parents Kate and Chris Hollis.
Workman Kelvin Elmore had cut a metal plate supporting the lamppost five days before the accident, thinking it was part of an abandoned tram line, the inquest at West London Coroner's Court heard.
He was attempting to clear underground obstacles so that Virgin Media cables could be moved near Chiswick Town Hall as part of a council road re-widening scheme.
Mr Elmore, of construction firm McNicholas, did not give evidence in person during the three-day inquest after taking legal advice, but in a statement read to the inquest said he wished he could have taken Tommy's place.
Tommy's parents, who also have an eight-month old son, Jack, are now pursuing legal action over the death and say their sorrow was "compounded" by the way the inquest was conducted.
Speaking outside the court, with her husband's arm around her, Mrs Hollis said: "We came here knowing it would be an extremely challenging time for us. "
However, we did not expect our upset and anguish to be compounded by what we feel was the coroner's decision to exclude from consideration questions and evidence that might lead us to better understand how our son, Tommy, was killed in February 2010."